The Aud Dev Digest / July 13, 2021

Instagram is testing links for *everyone* 👀

Samantha Zabell
3 min readJul 13, 2021

There was a lot to choose from this week! New Instagram features on the horizon, a guide to virtual programming, and some very legit questions about why the NY BOE decided to be cute during a tense mayoral election. Let us start!

1️⃣ File this under the “FINALLY” category — just let people share links if they want to share links! “Link in bio” is tedious, and I’m all for a tool that makes it easier for the non-influencer to promote their work or what they’re reading. I’m sure there are pitfalls to this strategy (misinfo, spam, etc) but overall, I like the democratization of “premium” features, and how this one in particular makes follower growth less crucial. It lowers the bar for who can be an influencer — you can have a small community of, say, 1,000 followers and still share content with them! Read the full story at The Verge:

2️⃣ I do not like criticizing social media accounts/managers because running just one account is hard work, and social editors are often running at least three. That being said, I appreciated this issue of Embedded, on weird tone choice for New York BOE’s Twitter during the mayoral election. While brand accounts adopting “human” personalities has become a trend and engagement tactic, it doesn’t necessarily work here — it becomes distracting and a little anxiety-inducing. Kate Lindsay writes:

But the BOE isn’t a brand, it’s a public service, and a crucial one. It doesn’t need to drive engagement or grow its following. It doesn’t need clicks or people to purchase its product. It needs to relay information in a clear, timely manner.

I think what I take away from this moment is the importance of an audience development or social media team. These are high-visibility and high-impact spaces, and it’s unfair to have one person managing the strategy, execution, and analysis on multiple platforms, all with different trends and audiences and best practices. So instead of dunking on whoever is behind the BOE Twitter (Kate has a guess), I would say that all companies should remember that, once again, a social media account isn’t “easy” to run and requires the thoughtfulness and collaboration of a group of colleagues, working together to make it as effective as possible. My hypothesis: Bigger social teams would lead to fewer social media faux pas. Read the full post on Embedded:

3️⃣ I nerded out reading about how LA Times created virtual programming for the pandemic. I love the interview’s approach here — asking what problems the Times aimed to solve, how they developed programming, what worked/what didn’t. It made me think about how the pandemic forced a lot of media organizations to shift strategy quickly, at first, but then develop longer-term, sustainable pivots to fit the circumstances. It wasn’t like a big breaking news pivot; it required reimagining core business tentpoles and really leaning into audience listening. Highly recommend!

And this week’s tweet is a “read the responses” kind of tweet:



Samantha Zabell

Audience development strategist, previously at Medium, Time Inc., Real Simple